With finishing touches ongoing, work at the new all-weather track on the Riverbank High School campus is nearing completion and the official ribbon-cutting is scheduled for next week.
The official Grand Opening celebration of the facility is set for Tuesday, Sept. 1 at 3:30 p.m., slated to run until 4:45 p.m. with light refreshments following the ribbon cutting and ceremony. The first football game on the field is scheduled for Friday, Sept. 4, with the Bruin teams hosting the Big Valley Christian Lions. RHS travels to Waterford this Friday, to open its season against the Wildcats for the 2015 campaign.
Spectators arriving at the field for the special dedication or the first home football game will notice some major changes from the dirt and grass facility of the past.
In the big picture, the most notable change is the smaller grass area. The space immediately outside the end zones out to the edge of the track is now surfaced the same as the running lanes, for the high jump pit on the north end and the pole vault pit on the south. The long jump pit and triple jump pit, east and west respectively, are no longer grass, either. And the pit areas, formerly open and full of sand, have covers built in, so that the area is flat and will no longer be dangerous to football players being pushed off the field. And campus officials say the bench area, now regulated to the running lanes of the respective jumping areas, will be protected so that footballers will not risk damaging the running surface with their cleats.
The smaller grass area will take less water to maintain, school officials noted, but early use of the field by the Riverbank Raiders youth football teams was moved to the Riverbank Sports Complex, where they train, to allow the newly planted sod more time to root.
Some track and field facilities will remain unchanged, however. To the south of the track, the shot put and discus throw areas remain as they were, grass fields except for the starting circles.